Friday, 28 October 2011

Handbags at Dawn!

Not that I am being competitive but my friend  in Ireland has just started a blog and her most recent post was on the subject of handbags which prompted me to reveal what fills my odd moments at dawn or any other time that idleness strikes - no more couch potato  - every minute must be productive! Watching TV is strictly out of one corner of the eye and the matter in hand is knitting - or rather knitting and crochet.
To begin with, whilst my sister was visiting a few months ago, we went to the inestimable Texere Yarns in Bradford and I bought some "extreme" knitting needles - 25mm of fabricating power!
I feel like Crocodile Dundee threatened with an NY mugger's puny flick knife - I want to go to Stitch and Bitch groups and say "Call that a knitting needle?" as I pull out my monster "Now that's a knitting needle!" Seriously - I had long wanted to try knitting with strips of fabric and this was my chance. Jersey t-shirts are ideal and handbags were the article of choice. It takes about five boy's t-shirts to make one of the larger handbags below and that's quite a weight of stretchy bag. It needs lining as the holes are big (25mm) and the handles have ribbon plaited in to stop the stretching. You can cut backwards and forwards in the fabric which results in a strip with square tabs every now and then or start at the bottom of the shirt and spiral up as far as the arms pits. This gives a continuous yarn with slight blips where the seams were.  I'm thinking of trying the first method cutting from narrow bands to produce more frequent tabs giving a deliberately furry feel to the knitting.
You can embellish the bags by weaving strands of bright silk strips through them as well as interesting choice of fabric for the liners and using varied buttons to attach them. Cue arty picture of some of my button collection!
Sadly my mother died some months ago and whilst sorting out her many knitting needles and crochet hooks, my sister and I came across one large wooden needle which was clearly a crochet hook but we couldn't figure out why it was so long as you usually only work one stitch (or group of stitches) at a time in Crochet. Anyway, due to the wonders of the WWW, I discovered that it was for Tunisian crochet during which, the stitches are all first worked onto the needle and then worked off until only one remains. You don't turn the work round at the end of the row - just keep working left then right. In the photo below, the cream handbag is Tunisian Single Stitch and you can see the needle I used whilst the other incomplete bag is a conventional , if large crochet needle working three strands of wool together in Single Stitch and alternating two black and two white yarns together with a multi-coloured flecked yarn. The handles are crocheted directly into the bags - joining the sides of the strip together - Simples!
You can find a very good guide to all forms of crochet including Tunisian here
Perhaps knitting is like the Catholic faith, you can lapse but if learned as a child, its always there to reclaim you! Crochet however was totally new to me and perhaps it is as a newbie that I can make the following observation. I was under the impression that crochet was only used for making squares to sew up into giant bedspreads  but I discover from a plethora of  modern books that it can be trendy and has many design possibilities yet it seems to remain as a separate craft to knitting sharing only the yarn, but when you look back to older books such as the beautiful 1930's example below, you find knitting and crochet stitches cheek by jowl - not just in the section on technique, but in garments themselves. Crochet is not just a finishing technique, but an alternative to knitting which can generate the whole or just a part of it. Maybe I was just ignorant - but perhaps it is time that these two branches of Woolcraft were more closely intertwined again...
And YES I have joined a Stitch and Bitch group or perhaps they should be more properly designated as guerilla knitters - The Knit a Bear Face group which meets every other Wednesday 5.30pm. in The Victoria Pub at the back of Leeds Town Hall!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Ghost Is More Important Than The Machine: Norman Corwin (1910-2011) | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches

The Ghost Is More Important Than The Machine: Norman Corwin (1910-2011) | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches

I had never heard of Norman Corwin but"On a Note of Triumph" sounds like a radio piece worth listening to - I for one will try and locate it. Despite the references to God, this sounds like a great humanistic work.